Apple Inc. has filed a federal lawsuit against “the world” for violating its U.S. Patent 3,141,5926 “Removing a Booger by Performing Gestures with a Finger.” Apple is demanding licensing royalties from all world citizens who pick their nose, and a cease & desist order against Kleenex tissues for providing citizens with an alternate method to jailbreak boogers and avoid Apple’s patent.
This new legal action follows a similar lawsuit that Apple filed against rival phone maker HTC for allegedly violating 20 of Apple’s mobile phone patents. The Apple patents include “novel” inventions such as U.S. Patent 7,657,849 for unlocking a phone with a finger swipe.
It’s no surprise that our overwhelmed U.S. Patent Office granted Apple a patent for simply combining two unpatentable features: swiping a finger and unlocking a phone. So naturally on the heels of this legal coup, Apple has also patented using your finger to open a document, close an app, make a phone call, and pick your nose.
Apple’s litigious reaction to its competition is understandable. Apple’s iPhone has jumped to an early lead in the smartphone market, but tech analysts predict the Google Android open mobile platform will permanently overtake the iPhone in market share by 2012. This prediction makes sense given that Apple is following the same tightly-controlled, closed-platform approach with mobile phones that it took in the personal computer market, which ultimately resulted in Apple’s niche 10% market share, while an inferior Windows on an open-hardware platform grabbed the market monopoly.
Steve Jobs is quoted in a press release as saying, “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it.” The irony is not lost considering Apple owes its existence to technology invented by someone else: the graphical user interface from Xerox Labs.
In spite of all the legal ruckus, there are some benefits to this new Apple lawsuit. For example, parents whose children embarrass the family with incessant nose-picking now have another tool in the shed. The next time little Johnny goes fishing for a booger, his mother can threaten to dock his allowance to pay the Apple licensing fees.
P.S. – In case it wasn’t obvious, this article is a parody joke. I’m actually an iPhone fan, just not a fan of the current U.S. software patent system. Apple, I know you’re in a litigious mood lately, but please don’t sue me for poking fun at you!
P.P.S. – Tired of bogus patents? To combat these annoying and often dangerous legal weapons, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has launched the Patent Busting Project to take down some of worst offenders.
Article published on March 4, 2010
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